Rescuing Golden Retriever Turkey Dogs
Have you heard about the rescuing of Golden Retriever "Turkey Dogs" in Istanbul, Turkey? It's hard to believe, but on the other side of the world, there isn't enough Golden Retriever love to go around. I didn't know anything about it until I came across this story that aired on CBS. According to locals, thousands of stray dogs fend for themselves on the streets of Istanbul, dodging traffic and begging for food. One breed in particular, however, is the most prone to malnourishment, exposure and death: Golden Retrievers. Because of their friendly disposition and non-aggressive temperament, they are not as inclined to defend themselves against other dogs.
An organization run by Yasemin Baban is trying to right this wrong for the Turkey Dogs. She and her volunteers sent about 600 dogs to 15 different states in America last year alone. Baban and her associates coordinate with American Golden Retriever Rescues who assist with the cost and medical clearances (and if needed, medical treatment) of bringing the dogs in to the United States. The dogs are then adopted by families here.
As for why there are so many dogs roaming loose in Istanbul, there is some political factors that you can read about here on CNN. But mostly it is because, just like many times in America, dogs are adorable and easier to care for when they are puppies. But then they grow up. And Goldens, while very sweet, grow up to be large and often energetic. A combination some pet owners aren't prepared to deal with.
Of course when I read this story about The Turkey Dogs, I couldn't help but think of my Lil Man (as we call him) Alton
The thought of him or one of his siblings, out alone on the street, hungry, cold, and scared breaks my heart. I only hope that more dogs are rescued than suffer.
I like to think that Andrew and I fully thought through what owning a full-grown (male) Golden would be like. Sure, it was really easy to melt into those adorable brown puppy eyes and big floppy ears. We knew, though, it wouldn't be fair to Alton, or us, if we over-romanticized what owning a large breed means. This is doubly an issue for us because we are both Little People. Alton is approaching 4 years old. He outweighs us both, and when he stretches from head to back paw, he's a match in vertical inches. That is why we had to focus so much on training as a pup. We knew that if Alton didn't respect us, we'd be in for an uphill battle.
Thankfully as a breed, Golden Retrievers are predominately predisposed to want to please. They love people. So the burden is on us to channel his (still somewhat) puppy energy. We constantly reinforce good behaviors with positive training. I've never really "tested" Alton in terms of seeing if he understands the pure strength in dominance he has over me. But I think he has some idea, yet he doesn't try to fully exert it. The most "defiant" he is these days is with his barking. He's not a nuisance or boredom barker. He barks when he wants to tell us something. "I want" or "I need" or "I'm really excited." It's a sign he's actually very spoiled. He may not have to roam the streets of Istanbul, yet, life can be just as tough when your mom doesn't speak woof. It's all about perspective, right?
Indeed, I may not be bi-lingual in woof, but I'll spend every blessed day he's with us trying to figure out what he wants. It's the least I can do in exchange for the unconditional love he gives me every day.